In part one of this report on the Character Central blog, I shared with you our adventures around Shanghai Disney Resort, outside of the main theme park. I told you about the Disney hotels, Disneytown and other relevant areas. Over on the Two Lost Boys blog, I gave my account of arriving in Shanghai and visiting the Disney Store in the city. Now, in this part, we are going to step through the main gates of the park and discover the magic and wonder of Mickey Avenue!
There are a LOT of photos in this post, and I will be covering every last detail, including all the stores and restaurants, inside and out, character greetings and any other relevant information regarding Mickey Avenue.
So, let's kick off with the view you will see when arriving at the front entrance - a vast gray concourse, with security entrance lines, and the Steamboat Willie fountain.
It's a nice fountain, but I feel it is perhaps a little underwhelming compared to Fantasia Gardens at Disneyland Paris, or the incredible whale fountain at Hong Kong Disneyland. Anyway, I don't want to complain from the outset, it's merely an observation. It is prettier at night than it is in the daytime.
Once through security you find yourself in the plaza before the turnstiles. Here you can find ticket booths, package pick-up, bathrooms, a guest services location, and other amenities (all pictured below).
If you already have your ticket, then you can head to the turnstiles. Before we enter the park proper, we are teased with the Mickey floral and the train station through the railings.
Once you're inside you will find another guest services location, and the stroller and wheelchair rental store. For your convenience, I even took a photo of the stroller and wheelchair price board, which you can see below.
We stopped into guest relations on one occasion to ask something, and were surprised to be presented with free badges (buttons)! We didn't realise that the new park had these and are glad we discovered this, so be sure to ask for yours!
Approaching the train station, you will realise that in fact it is not a real station, unfortunately. It does have some really nice Disney details around it though, and continues the tradition of having the attraction posters in the breezeway underneath, with this parks own versions.
Once you have entered under the train station, you find yourself in a small square, reminiscent of Town Square at the other Disneyland parks around the world, but with an immediately distinct character all of its own.
When we first arrived at Shanghai Disneyland, cast members were welcoming guests into the park, much like they sometimes do in the US parks, which really made us feel at home and welcomed right away.
My immediate impression of Mickey Avenue was that it is really pretty, quaint, but very small. The street is really short - at least half the length of Main Street USA at Disneyland, and that is being generous.
With that said, there are so many details packed into this small space, it is going to be a challenge to share them all here without overwhelming you! I will go through each location one-by-one, as not to miss anything. As per the park map, and by my own count, there are just four retail locations on Mickey Avenue, including a small cart. There are also four dining locations, which includes a very small window kiosk.
Let's start with the biggest store on the street, which stretches nearly the entire length of the left side - Avenue M Arcade. Avenue M Arcade actually comprises of a lot of little "boutiques" inside of it, that are all interconnected. I guess it takes a partial inspiration from the Emporium at Disneyland, with the Crystal Arcade. Of course, Avenue M Arcade has a style all of its own, though, and is unmistakably different. As you'll discover reading through the rest of this report, Mickey Avenue is a mixture of what can be best described as Toontown meets Main Street and Buena Vista Street. On the interior, Avenue M Arcade is a little more reminiscent of something that belongs on Main Street and Toontown than Buena Vista Street, but on the exterior, Avenue M Arcade has a real mixture of styles , including its very own Carthay Circle, à la Buena Vista Street. Interestingly, there is a large room that houses a bank of cash registers, which I think probably took inspiration from the confectionery store in Tokyo Disneyland.
Rewinding back down the street, and skipping over to the other side, near the train station you will find automated locker rental, which we definitely made use of during our trip (there are English language instruction and cast members stationed at the door for assistance). The outside of this building reminded me a lot of Buena Vista Street.
Next to the locker rental is Carefree Corner, which houses the Disney PhotoPass centre for the park. We actually utilised PhotoPass during our trip, so much so that we purchased their three day deal. The PhotoPass photographers around the park are always extremely enthusiastic, and in three days we ended up with over a thousand photos from it! A word of warning though: the PhotoPass app is pretty unreliable and since we have got home we have had trouble with both the app and the website. Thankfully, through immeasurable patience and persistence, I have downloaded the photos that I wanted, but it was touch and go that it would even work for a while. Hopefully their system has just been a overwhelmed with the number of people wanting to use the service and the kinks will get ironed out soon enough. Around Carefree Corner there are some neat Disney details.
Inside Carefree Corner you can access the Mickey Avenue Post Office. It's really tiny, but cute. I was really happy to see a Beagle Boys reference!
Next door to Carefree Corner and the Post Office is Sweethearts Confectionery, which, as you can imagine, sells sweet goods. Again, there are some nice Disney details, and is more akin to stores you find on Main Street USA.
Continuing up the right side of the street, and we come to Chip and Dale's Treehouse Treats, which is a small kiosk location selling snacks and drinks.
On the right corner, beyond Treehouse Treats, is Remy's Patisserie. Themed for the PIXAR movie Ratatouille, it's a really cute location that features lots of really nice details, such as the rat silhouettes that (really) run across one of the interior windows, paintings, and exterior theming such as a French magazine kiosk and Guteau's cooking school. The window under the cooking school sign actually looks into the kitchen of the patisserie. The food here is actually very good, and they have great iced coffee, too! Remy's Patisserie is probably my favourite indoor location on Mickey Avenue.
Continuing around to the right of the street, we come to Mickey and Pals Market Cafe, which is possibly the largest dining location in the park. It doesn't have one consistent theme, instead housing numerous different themed rooms that are supposed to be other restaurants, such as an all-American diner, Tony's restaurant from Lady and the Tramp, and various other rooms. There is an incredible mural on one of the walls in one of the rooms which took me several photos to fully capture (and by no means do any justice), and the murals above the main serving area are really detailed. We ate here one day, since they have a decent vegetarian option, and we were suitably impressed. Our meat-eating friend had no complaints with what he ordered either! There are too many individual details to list, so I'll just share below a selection of my photos, and hope that you can really grasp the scale of this building.
For a park that doesn't actually have a train, there sure are a lot of train related locations on Mickey Avenue! Next to the Mickey and Pals Market Cafe are two more train themed areas - the Whistle Stop Shop, and the Lucky Express.
The Whistle Stop Shop is a railroad themed store that sells Duffy merchandise. There are actually a lot of really cool nods to Disney history in here, which was nice to see.
The Lucky Express is an Oswald themed train car that sits out on the main walkway, selling generic merchandise.
Finally on this far corner of Mickey Avenue we find the First Aid and Baby Care centre. Nothing particularly special about it, but I wanted to include it for completeness sake!
If we head back to the core area of Mickey Avenue and keep walking past Avenue M Arcade we find the last location on Mickey Avenue, Il Paperino. Il Paperino is the park's main ice cream place, and it really has some tasty items! The theming again is fun and a little cartoony - I mean, how many buildings do you know are made of a giant waffle?...
Just because Il Paperino was the last retail/dining location to talk about, we are far from done with Mickey Avenue!
From Mickey Avenue, you can access the Walt Disney Grand Theatre, which in the evenings is home to The Lion King (the Chinese version of the Broadway production - yes, you need tickets). However, in the daytime it is open to park guests to sit and watch Mickey Mouse cartoons. It was really a smart design to put an entrance to the theatre on both the Disneytown side and inside the park. The theatre lobby has a really great display that features all the Disney musicals, past and present.
Throughout the day the Shanghai Disneyland Band plays on the street. Sometimes they'll play in the square area, and sometimes up near the entrance to the Gardens of Imagination. When they play up by the Gardens of Imagination Mickey himself usually joins them, conducting the band like he does in Disneyland, California!
Of course, Mickey Avenue wouldn't be complete without the Disney characters. Here you can meet Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Duffy the Disney Bear. Interestingly, the Chinese do not seem to be too bothered by the Disney characters right now, and there was never a wait for any of them.
While I shared with you a lot of close up shots of the retail and dining locations on Mickey Avenue, there are so many more details that do not belong to a particular location. There are a lot of facades and side areas that have hidden gems and quirky little details that I want to share with you in the photos below.
I was concerned before visiting Shanghai Disneyland that I wouldn't like Mickey Avenue, and that I would miss Main Street. I was proven wrong and just wish in fact that Mickey Avenue had more. My photos could never do justice every detail of Mickey Avenue, but I hope that at least my photos have given you a good idea of what it is like. Of the six lands in the park, Mickey Avenue is my favourite area. There are so many hidden gems; nods to Disney history, wacky cartoon props, pictures and posters, puns, facades, doors and windows that contain so much that you could probably spend all day looking, and still not see it all.
That's it for this report! In the next part we will discover the Gardens of Imagination, Mickey's Storybook Express parade, the Golden Fairytale Fanfare show, and the nighttime spectacular, "Ignite the Dream".
If you have any comments, thoughts or questions about this report and Mickey Avenue, you can hit the "Discuss..." bar at the bottom, and leave feedback on our forum.
Have a great day everyone,